Plus new Maps features and a neat Note trick
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Android Intelligence
 
 
IN THIS ISSUE:
 
  The Latest Android Intelligence: When Android Q might reach you and the unexpected side effect of Google's Pixel 4 phone
  3 Things to Know This Week: The Android gesture struggle, handy new Maps features, and a new Note trick Android itself should steal
  Tips o’ the Week: The smart worker's guide to using a Chromebook offline and the hassle-free secrets to printing and scanning with Android
  Test Your Knowledge: A quiz about Android upgrades and the efforts to fix 'em
  Plus your first look at the Google kettle controversy — my, oh my, things are gettin' steamy...
 
 
 A Word of Welcome

If I were a gambling man, I'd say we're probably just over a week away from seeing the official Android Q release.

 

I'm not just pulling that out of me arse, either (though using the phrase "out of me arse" does make me feel like a pirate, which makes me inexplicably happy). No, there's a reason: The final Q beta came out this past Wednesday — and when that same milestone hit with Android P last year, it was a mere 12 days from then until the full version arrived.

 

So, yeah: If Google were to stick with that same structure this year, we'd see Q in all its glory, ready for global delivery, a week from Monday.

 

Now, that exact timing isn't set in stone, of course. But it stands to reason that a roughly similar progression could take place this year and that Q could come knock, knock, knockin' on Android's door somewhere around that same time.

 

The question then becomes when the software will actually reach you. And — yup, you guessed it — there's more data-driven guessing to be done in that department.

 

Brace yourself, and read on.

 
JR
jr@androidintel.net
 
 
INSIGHT
 The Latest Android Intelligence
 
When Will Your Phone Get Android Q? A Data-Driven Upgrade Guide

 The Short Version: Wondering when the soon-to-launch Android Q software will make its way to your device? Let cold, hard data guide your guess.

 

 Know More: As we were just discussing, the official Android Q release is now likely just days away — and while no one can say for sure exactly when the software will arrive on any given phone, what we can do is look to different device-makers' recent performances with Android upgrades as a general guide to what sorts of timelines seem likely. Take a deep breath...

 

 Read more: The full column is here.

 
 
The Unexpected Side Effect of Google's Pixel 4 Phone

 The Short Version: Google's upcoming Pixel 4 is already shaking up the smartphone game, but not in the way you might expect.

 

 Know More: By embracing leaks and one-upping them with its own prematurely self-leaked stream (a series of words that'd be serious cause for concern in any other scenario), Google is reclaiming control of the narrative surrounding its upcoming phone — and, in doing so, taking a bold step away from an antiquated era of "launch event" theatrics.

 

 Read more: The full column is here.

 More Next-Level Knowledge
 
This week in Android Intelligence Platinum:

 A fresh edition of How I Use Android — my evolving guide to the devices and accessories I rely on and the setup I use to keep my home screen optimized for efficiency

 A newly updated version of My Essential Android Apps — a rundown of my most important apps of the moment and how they all fit into my workflow

 A trip back in time to an unassuming Google launch event that proved to be far more important than anyone realized

 

Plus, "The Show Must Go On" — the latest episode of my brutally honest members-only podcast, bringing you an in-depth, click-free, and ad-free conversation about each week's most interesting stories and the perspective you need to process ’em.

 

All of that and oodles of other useful stuff awaits! Come check it out and help support this completely independent publication:

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PERSPECTIVE
 3 Things to Know This Week
 
1. Google's still struggling to get Android gestures right

 The Short Version: This latest Android Q beta doesn't have much noticeably different from the previous preview release, but one area Google's still trying to refine is the software's ever-evolving gesture navigation system.

 

 Know more: Android Q's new gesture system has felt kinda clunky from the start, and quite honestly, it still feels like a work in progress today. Parts of the system are sensible and pleasant enough to use, once you get used to 'em, but other parts are just plain awkward and a pain to get around — like the new system-wide Back gesture, which involves swiping inward from either side of the screen and frequently conflicts with other commands involving that same motion. This week's final Q beta attempts to address that by adding in a new "Back Sensitivity" setting that lets you make the command less responsive, but (a) it's a weird out-of-the-way setting no normal person ever will (or should have to) mess with, and (b) this latest fix still doesn't address the underlying issue of inconsistency and never fully knowing what's gonna happen when you swipe in from the side of your screen at any given moment. Sigh.

 

 Read more: Google's rundown of the final Q beta changes is right here.

 

 Dive Deeper: For a more in-depth look at the lingering issues with Android Q's gesture navigation system, look back to my earlier (and still entirely relevant) column: "4 big, fat, pesky problems with Android Q gestures"

 
 
2. Google Maps is getting some handy new features

 The Short Version: Google's officially moving its travel-organizing system from the now-dead Trips app into Google Maps — and adding in a "Live View" navigation interface at the same time.

 

 Know more: If you're still mourning the loss of Google's excellent Trips app (or, heck, even if you never knew it existed), you'll be happy to know the same basic system is already making its way into Maps. In short, anytime you have travel-related itineraries or confirmations in your Gmail, Maps will automatically pull out the details and organize them into trip-based bundles that you can easily access both online and off. I still think the third-party TripIt service is the better all-around travel organization option for anyone who does a fair amount of flying, but Google's newly repositioned tool is a great lightweight alternative — and it's nice to see it making a comeback so quickly (even if Google totally botched the messaging on this by failing to make it clear there'd be such a timely transition). The "Live View" system, meanwhile, looks like a novel if perhaps somewhat nauseating way to get your bearings while still seeing the world around you. Both features should show up in the Maps app "in the coming weeks."

 

 Read more: You can find the official info about those elements and a few other new incoming Maps features in Google's official Maps blog.

 

 Dive Deeper: For more on TripIt and why I think it's the better bet for the frequent flying folk among us, look back to my June exploration of the subject: "The smarter way to organize travel on Android"

 
 
3. Samsung's new Galaxy Note has one especially noteworthy feature

 The Short Version: Along with all the usual spec bumps, design refinements, and stylus this-and-thats, the latest Galaxy Note has a really interesting new way of connecting your phone with your computer.

 

 Know more: Samsung has offered a desktop mode on its Galaxy devices for a while now — a thing called DeX that lets you hook up the phone to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard and then access all of Android in a scaled-up, full-screen interface. It's a nice enough idea in theory, but like most phone-to-desktop systems before it, it just isn't a great experience in practice and isn't something most people end up using. With the newly announced Note 10, that feature gains the ability to work within any existing Windows or Mac system: You just plug the phone into your computer and then can click around and access your entire device inside a window on your regular desktop. It's a genuinely clever concept that, quite frankly, seems like it should be part of Android itself and instantly available with any phone. Hey, Google: You listening?

 

 Read more: You can find a detailed overview of the setup in this hands-on tour (be sure to look at the video).

 

 Dive Deeper: For a broader look at the new Note and what it's all about, click through to this thorough overview.

Productivity
 Tips o' the Week
 
Set up your Chromebook for offline success

There's a persistent myth out there that Chromebooks can't do much of anything offline. In reality, that couldn't be further from the truth.

 

In fact, there's not much of anything you could do on a Windows or Mac system offline that you couldn't also accomplish on a Chromebook — and on the flipside, Chrome OS presents some pretty interesting offline possibilities that aren't possible on those more traditional systems.

 

Ultimately, just like with a Mac or Windows computer, it all comes down to preparing ahead of time and making sure you have all the right stuff set up before your connection goes kaput.

 

I put together a step-by-step checklist of all the things you should think about for a fully robust and compromise-free connection-free experience. Look it over or hang onto it for future reference — and never worry about working without Wi-Fi again.

 
 
Print and scan with Android without the usual hassle

Printing from Android sure ain't what it used to be. It's not a widely known fact, but relatively recent versions of Android have a built-in native system for connecting with most any modern printer — without the need for any third-party apps or complicated configurations.

 

Scanning a photo or document with your phone requires a bit more effort, but it's still pretty easy to do.

 

This detailed guide has everything you need to know to straddle the physical-digital divide and handle good old-fashioned paper from your phone like a pro.

Quiz Time
 Test Your Knowledge
 
Which Google effort wasn't about improving Android upgrade delivery times?

Right-o! Project Strobe was a 2018 effort focused on data protection. (It's what officially led to the closing of Google+.) D'oh! Wrong answer. Try again.

 Test your friends (and/or felines)

This interactive quiz is optimized for Gmail on Android or the web. If you're using another mail client and nothing's happening when you click or tap a choice, don't despair: You can find the right answer at the bottom of this email.

 

If the quiz isn't appearing correctly at all for you (hi, Windows Outlook/Mail users!), open this issue in your browser instead. It'll work A-OK there.

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 And Just For Funsies...
 

Sometimes, you can learn the most about a company's culture by observing the ways regular ol' employees interact with each other — the "watercooler conversations," so to speak, in whatever form they take.

 

Well, this week, we're getting a rather amusing glimpse at one such interaction within Google. A Google engineer shared an image of a sign placed in a breakroom area asking people to fill a nearby kettle only with the water they needed — since, the sign alleged, using less water would waste less time and energy:

 

 

Being Google, however, the innocuous-seeming sign sparked a bit of a debate — one that played out in Post-It notes...

 

 

...and even evidence-citing experiments.

 

 

As the engineer who shared this put it: "Nothing explains this company better than this conversation on kettle filling."

 

If only all interoffice disputes could be so scientific.

 
Stay Tuned...

Make no mistake about it, my friend: We're down to the final countdown to Android Q. One way or another, we'll have lots to talk about on that front in the days and weeks ahead.

 

If you haven't tried your free trial of Android Intelligence Platinum yet, by the way, now's the time. From the expanded newsletter to the weekly podcast and all the other members-only resources, there's lots o' good stuff going on over on that side of the virtual fence this summer. And an awesome new perk is about to be added into the mix, too — one that'll bring even more practical knowledge into your inbox.

 

Have yourself a wonderful week, won't ya? I'll see you back here before you know it.

Thoughts
JR

The answer to this week's quiz is: Project Strobe

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